Mike Hess, Founder and Executive Director of the Blind Institute of Technology, discusses the positive impact of accessibility solutions for both employees and employers.


Intro: [00:00:00.21] Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com, as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools and case studies for the business leader, HR and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now, here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:25.82] Two of the biggest myths when it comes to working with people with disabilities is the belief that technology and employee accessibility is expensive. The second is the belief that employees with disabilities hurt, not help drive business revenue. These myths are conversations we need to talk about, and I want to work to debunk these, which is why I’m excited to talk to my podcast guest today. This episode is part of the Workology podcast and it’s part of our Future of Work series, which is powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this year, we’re investigating what the next 30 years will look like for people with disabilities at work and the potential of emerging technologies to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:17.51] Today, I’m joined by Mike Hess. Mike Hess is the founder and executive director of the Blind Institute of Technology. After 20 years as a tech veteran managing seven figure projects for Fortune 500 companies, one thing troubled Mike: he was always the token blind guy. Knowing that the invaluable skills he developed because of his blindness were the keys to his success, he couldn’t understand why unemployment amongst the BVI community was so high. So, Mike embarked on a journey to change corporate America stigmas and misconceptions of BVI professionals, developing the Blind Institute of Technology. Using the same skills that made him a success in IT, Mike has built partnerships and placed BVI professionals and Fortune 500 companies nationwide. Mike has been featured in the Denver Post and the Denver Business Journal and has been honored with the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Business Award and the 2019 GlobalMindED Inclusive Leader Award. BIT’s focus on accessible technology has garnered invitations to present at Google Cloud’s next 2019 conference and Salesforce’s Dreamforce in 2019. Mike is also the co-host for Choose Inclusion, a podcast addressing the benefits of diversity and inclusion. In 2019, Mike’s vision of full access for BVI led him to develop Edge Guide, a navigation system that allows independent navigation in previously inaccessible public spaces. Mike, welcome to the Workology podcast.

Mike Hess: [00:02:51.08] Thank you so much for having me. It’s truly an honor.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:54.50] I am just… my mind is blown with all these things and, and the work that you’re doing. Tell us a little bit more about your background.

Mike Hess: [00:03:05.52] Sure. I… It sounds, it sounds kind of, it sounds kind of impressive, like we’re busy actually doing something. It’s never just a single, as you know this, running a business or anybody else running a business or managing a team, like it’s a, it’s a team effort. And I have… I’m so fortunate to work with such an amazing team. However, my, my background, you know, I started out way back in the mid-90s as a, as a coder and moved on. I was, all my, almost all my career was telecommunications. And so I went from coding for the billing system to being a network engineer. So, the translations that allow your phone calls to traverse the network, and in telecommunications, if you can, if you can build for it, you can route it. It’s a product. And so, as I was continuing on with my career, able to manage larger and larger projects and I didn’t really want to get into management, but I was curious on the, kind of the art or the science of building a business case, you know, working on technology projects that sometimes, quite honestly, after, you know, a dozen or so years of experience, I was, I was really baffled of business decisions that were being made. And so I started raising my hand for skip level type opportunities with the C-Suite within organizations and kind of really picking their brain around this, this concept of building a business case.

Mike Hess: [00:04:35.92] Because I just wanted to figure this out. I was kind of perplexed and then, so, I started dabbling in the ability to not only run a company from that C-Suite perspective, but also just recognize, you know, how to communicate effectively with a C-Suite type team. And so, and then as my career progressed, I started getting, sort of realizing like I was, I really was frustrated with being that token blind person and, as an engineer, started doing some due diligence and just recognize there are some great organizations and entities that are out there that advocate for blind, visually impaired, and the greater people with disabilities community. And somewhere on their websites, they talk about employment services, and so I, I kind of after, after talking to my wife, and my wife being such a supporter of this concept that I came up with, Blind Institute of Technology, where it’s an entity that solely focused on employment for people with disabilities, I left my six figure income with a small child at home to, to start this dream seven and a half years ago. So it was, it was a collaborative decision to do so, and it’s like all startups, even though we’re a nonprofit, we faced a lot of startup challenges, just like a lot of other organizations do. And with seven and a half years later, we’re here adding value to organizations nationwide.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:08.74] Let’s talk a little bit about accessibility, especially since so much of our life has recently shifted to telework and remote work. Can you talk to us about what digital accessibility looks like for workplaces?

Mike Hess: [00:06:22.24] Absolutely. So I, we were kind of talking a little bit before we came on air. Just this pandemic environment is, quite honestly, is easier for kind of the people with disabilities community from a, just a logistics perspective. When you think of how challenging mass transit or, in my case, flying from city to city, talking to different organizations and navigating where to find the Uber stations and, and all of those kind of environments, you know, doing just utilizing unified communications, whether it be, you know, Microsoft Teams or Zoom or any, you know, Google hangouts like these, these unified communications are A) incredibly accessible and, B) just super convenient for, you know, people with disabilities who have just a couple of other challenges to consider when having to travel so much. So, so I, I actually, you know, when I say that with truly the understanding that the pandemic has permanently affected so many organizations and so many people’s lives. I don’t say that, you know, with a, with a smile on my face. However, you know, always looking for that silver lining, specifically for me and then others within the, the professionals with disabilities community, just recognizing that it really, this pandemic environment has made doing business just a wee bit easier.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:54.64] Your work and your expertise in this area speaks volumes. And I wanted to ask you about how do you work with employers when you offer accessibility technology solutions? Is, is there a best practice or how do you go about that? What’s the process?

Mike Hess: [00:08:13.15] Well, so it’s a great question. And so, we, so we lead with, you know, and I’m sure you’ve had so many guests on the show, you know, Peatworks absolutely talks about, you know, accessible technology, so accessible technology foundationally and fundamentally comes from WCAG which is the web content accessible guidelines, which, of course, is adhered to by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. So, like, there’s, there’s all of those best, you know, the best practices and the principles all come from, you know, tried and true requirements. So, we as an organization, because, again, I said that we, Blind Institute of Technology, focuses really on the employment epidemic and the unemployment epidemic for people with disabilities. And, as I talk to organizations and partner with, I mean, juggernauts like Salesforce or CBS nationwide, how I pitch people with disabilities to these organizations is that it is a technology solution. So in other words, whether you’re, whether you’re blind, whether you’re deaf, whether you’re on the spectrum, whether you have an anxiety disorder, there are technologies in place to help individuals with disabilities to be able to overcome those challenges and be able to perform and produce for that organization. And so it’s, it’s not a, that we are, I mean, there are so many A11Y organizations that are out there, and we help several very large clients nationwide with their A11Y. However, our kind of, our jam, our bailiwick is, is not just selling, oh, here’s how you make this environment accessible. So, too many, quite honestly, that market is saturated. So, our, our way into organizations is helping them with their diversity, equity and inclusion hiring practices in and around people with disabilities. So, because we speak that language first, our organization, we are experts in workforce development and that’s the language we speak for these organizations and that’s why we’re creating partnerships nationwide.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:25.06] One of the other reasons that I wanted to talk to you about this topic of accessible technology is on the subject of productivity. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stereotypes and opinions that tie productivity challenges to people with disabilities because they do or do not need accommodation. Can you talk to me a little bit about your work in this area and why this is personally important to you?

Mike Hess: [00:10:50.32] Sure. Again, another good question. The, so, I honestly, there is a lot of anecdotal stuff out there and there are some horror stories. I get that. So, if you start, if you dig around and poke around the Internet long enough or if you just start asking around, like everybody knows somebody that has some kind of a situation. So all I can do is explain, you know, what we as an organization, Blindness to the Technology, we, we, we personally, as an organization or we as an organization have a 96.7% retention rate with the individuals that we place within companies. So, so in other words, companies spend a lot more money on attrition based on the talent that we find them. So, kind of a bonus. So, they’re not just keeping these folks on board because they’re unable to produce. So, starting with that. So, our own, this is our data, our organizational data. Then if we move on to the most recent Accenture report where they talk about organizations that embrace people with disabilities from an employment perspective, have a 28% higher revenue, a 30% higher profit margin and two times net income higher than their industry peers. So, when you start thinking of that as a data set, OK, those are, those are just numbers, right? That, that absolutely, you could easily connect the dots or make the argument that these organizations are obviously finding some kind of value, some kind of productivity with these teammates that maybe other organizations who haven’t found out what I consider the greatest untapped resource in the world, which is the professionals with disabilities community, have not.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:44.71] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell, and you are listening to the Workology podcast. Today, we are talking with Mike Hess about workplace accessibility. This podcast is sponsored by Workology and is part of our Future of Work series in partnership with PEAT. They’re the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology.

Break: [00:13:04.53] The Workology podcast Future of Work series, is supported by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology. PEAT’s initiative is to foster collaboration and action around accessible technology in the workplace. PEAT is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, ODEP. Learn more about PEAT at peatworks.org, That’s peatworks.org.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:31.39] One of the things that HR leaders are pretty familiar with is accommodation requests. And I wondered if you could maybe provide me with, I know you mentioned the Accenture report, but possibly another example of how accessibility and accommodation requests drive performance, especially with the work that you’re doing and the people that you’re bringing into these organizations.

Mike Hess: [00:13:54.42] Sure. Well, when, so when we talk to organizations, we, so and the conversations are very, very unique, depending on the leader within the organizations. And so, when we’re talking to HR leaders, again reasonable accommodations is a topic. And I submit that the same coin, just flip side of the coin of reasonable accommodation, is the term accessible technology. And when we’re able to prove that there are organizations such as Microsoft, such as Google, such as Salesforce, a very key strategic partner for BIT, that have completely committed to making technology, their technology completely accessible. So, I start, I start a process of elimination at this point in time when I’m talking to these organizations like, OK, are you a Microsoft shop? Well, of course. OK, do you have some Google infrastructure? Yeah, probably. Are you a Salesforce shop? They’re the largest CRM in the world. So, there’s a really good chance that some part of the organization or, in many cases, the entire organization has some kind of enterprise-wide Salesforce force solution. So when I start talking to them about technologies that these organizations currently have in place, I let them know that, you know, many times the work has already been done for that coin of reasonable accommodation. So, from a digital perspective, many times that business case has already been made. So, on the flip side of that, when I start talking to, let’s say, technology leaders. Right. And literally I’ve been asked by CEOs and CIOs and CTOs of organizations who are super bright people, super, super bright individuals. And they’re like Mike, give me a solid example, like I have been in technology a long time. I don’t, explain what accessible technology is. And I’m like, OK, a simple, a simple example, I said for a user interface, I said, to be able to navigate a user interface without using a mouse.

Mike Hess: [00:16:02.41] Right. I said, it’s super, you know, you’re focused on tab control, you’re focused on your dom. And I ask them, I ask these technology leaders, what kind of a lift is it to make those user interfaces, you know, implement that tab control. And they’re like, oh, it’s a low level of effort. And I’m like, exactly. So, from a zeros and ones perspective, like making technology. And when you start doing, taking away the mouse and you’re doing keyboard control, all of a sudden now it’s not just the blind visually impaired community, right? It’s the motor skills impaired community. It’s so many, for power users that’s, that is absolutely a key driver for power users’ productivity. Is making sure that user interfaces are strictly navigable based on the keyboard. And so those are the kind of conversations. And then, then let’s flip over to let’s say I’m talking to somebody from a contact center perspective, a tier one or sales organization. What I’m selling that people with disabilities, when I’m selling, let’s say, blind, visually impaired people from an assets perspective, because, again, I always lead with: we add value. We as an organization or as a community, add value to your organization’s bottom line and your culture. And for the Accenture report, we actually have some hard data that proves that point. However, when I’m talking to these different parts of the organization, I explain to them, if you can come up with another demographic who has the patent on active listening other than the blind visually impaired, I’d like to know who they are. So, again, I’m always focused on the assets, how it is that we add value to organizations.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:41.91] Businesses are focused on ROI or return on investment. Can you talk about how accessibility contributes to an organization’s success, financial and otherwise?

Mike Hess: [00:17:52.68] Sure. It’s an estimated six hundred and forty-five billion dollars of disposable income from the people with disabilities community in the United States alone, estimated six hundred and forty-five billion dollars. And so if you look at it just from that, that spending power, for businesses who are reluctant to, let’s say, not jump, and based on all the, I mean, very public lawsuits, right. I mean, from Harvard to Domino’s to Nike to Five Guys. I mean, there’s Winn-Dixie. I mean, these are really public national brands, international brands, very recent. 2019. You know, these are all really recent lawsuits that have taken their turn in the spotlight, which isn’t always a good spotlight. And when you think of organizations who have not jumped on the bandwagon of accessibility, they’re missing out on a market share. The people with disabilities, the reason why, let’s say from a technology, just a mobile device perspective, when Steve Jobs, when in my opinion, one of the more brilliant things that he did early on, with a very early onset of the iPhone, I Devices to ensure that all, all those devices had accessibility baked in. And still to this day, when you go to, let’s say, a blindness convention or conference and yes, believe it or not, there are many of those. I call them, you know, cane and dog conferences, because that’s, there’s a whole lot of those there. They’re practically an iPhone conference because early on that technology company and it used to be, I haven’t looked recently, but it used to be the fourth value on the Apple website was accessibility. And so, when organizations tap into that purchasing power, there’s a very loyal, very loyal demographic that absolutely will keep coming back because we do not, unfortunately, have as many options as our fully able-bodied peers.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:01.68] You know, working with PEAT and being, and my time spent on this Future of Work podcast has really opened my eyes to this area because I think I take for granted things like ramps or electric doors or simple things on the iPhone that make my life so much easier that I love, like Siri, for example, and different features, but they were first built for people with disabilities to be able to use different technologies. That is truly universal design. But the purpose was to make this technology accessible for, for everyone, including people with disabilities.

Mike Hess: 100 percent.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: Sometimes we forget the why behind why something like Apple, which is so very simple and I’m a huge Apple fan, was developed and how it came about, the simple design, easy to use, it’s really accessible for everyone.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:57.39] What have you found are the best approaches to broach subjects like this to senior leadership? I find that HR leaders generally have big hearts, but unfortunately, sometimes translating the need to provide support and resources to marginalized groups in the workplace, like people with disabilities, often gets lost in translation. What suggestions do you have?

Mike Hess: [00:21:17.09] I, so I, I love this question and quite honestly, I feel like it’s what delineates Blind Institute of Technology with any other organization that’s out there right now. And I’ve met, I’ve met with so many of the senior leaders of the, the blindness organizations or the greater people with disabilities communications. Quite honestly, it’s rare to find a leader within any of those organizations, quite honestly, who is somebody with a disability. Or if you do find one that’s with a disability, they have zero experience within corporate America. So, they don’t even speak Fortune 10,000 speak. And so the reason why I was very, very specific on saying that I, you know, during my corporate career, I spent a lot of time with the C-Suite because it actually is what delineates us at Blind Institute of Technology. I’m able to speak, you know, business case and cost benefit analysis and actually talking about the value proposition that people with disabilities bring. It’s not, this shouldn’t be a philanthropic endeavor. This should absolutely be something that organizations buy into and start realizing like: Oh, yeah, yeah. So OK. So, A) Again, let’s, let’s forget about all the Accenture numbers, which are pretty impressive numbers. Right. Let’s start focusing on that people with disabilities are less likely to leave their jobs because again, when you think about it, we’re not going to job hop.

Mike Hess: [00:22:51.54] We don’t get jobs to begin with. We don’t have the same opportunities as our fully able-bodied peers. We recognize that. And again, from a business perspective, there’s cost to attrition. So, every one of the data points that we come to the organization with, it’s all about adding value to their organizations and recognizing that reasonable accommodations really are reasonable. And more than likely, you already probably have several of them baked in you just didn’t know about. And so senior leaders and not all of them, it’s no different than call it the Black Lives Matter movement or whatnot. There are a lot of organizations who talk a big game when it comes to: “Oh, yeah, we’re totally, we’re totally inclusive. We’re totally this, we’re told. So, you can go back to their hiring practices. Where are you recruiting from? If you continue just to recruit from the elite schools and you’re, and who is attending those elite schools, you cannot tell me. Thank you for writing the great big old check over to BLM or some other organization. However, it’s, within the people with disabilities community and these other marginalized communities, quite honestly, the word gets out there, which organizations are truly walking the walk or not?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:03.54] Well, I love the consultative approach that you’re taking, and I love that you’re speaking the language of executive leaders because I feel like you hit the nail on the head saying a lot of it is, is lost in translation or they don’t understand the business itself to be able to use the words and talk about the return on investment in a way that is going to resonate with executive leadership. Can you share about how your consultative approach has helped you at achieving success and supporting organizations in the way that you have?

Mike Hess: [00:24:33.78] Absolutely. Thank you for that. So BIT, Blind Institute of technology. And just again, this is the kind of nerd I am, is that I, I took the binary bit, the zero in one, right, machine language, and created the acronym Blind Institute of Technology. So that’s my claim to marketing fame. However, I truly believe that technology is the greatest mitigator for all of humanity, from the Wright brothers to the pencil, always helping humanity overcome its obstacles. And in the digital age, it’s absolutely essential for our quality of life, let alone our ability to earn our own nickel. So, when I think of our success in getting, getting people placed, when I, again, because of my approach of leading with technology as that reasonable accommodation that you probably already had in place. When I come to these organizations, there are still, there are still some risks and some objections to these organizations. So, we as an organization have, so we’re a nonprofit staffing agency. So, organizations just like, you know, the big staffing agencies like a Robert Half or something like that. They, you know, if you go to them and you’re like, oh, man, find us a Java developer. Right. And fine. OK, so what’s your placement fee? So, their placement fee is somewhere north of twenty five percent.

Mike Hess: [00:25:58.27] I think it’s north of 30 percent. But so, for the first-year annual salary, they’ll take 30 percent for you to find that individual. So, we as a nonprofit aren’t even close to that. We charge 12 percent for our direct placements to these organizations and we’ve found senior directors, we’ve found vice presidents, we’ve found very high level. We have multiple, very high, one thousands, one hundred thousands I mean, salaries that we’ve helped do retainer searches for and finding talent, which all of them have stuck. We’ve also found some contact centers. But at the end of the day, the, the best model that we found, organizations who want to dip their toe in the pond of professionals with disabilities, is we do a contract-to-hire model, which is very common in the staffing industry. So, we keep those individuals on our books, and we offer benefits and paid time off. And we do not charge back our clients because again, we want to be an employer of choice as well. But we want to remove any risk that organizations might have or any objection. So, we’ve created the models that work really well with our industry partners.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:27:13.75] Talk to me about how technology is essential. I think that sometimes people, including myself, are focused on accommodations like wide doors, screen readers, ramps and other physical accommodations. However, the rules have changed. We’re all mostly working remote. So, talk to me about what’s essential right now.

Mike Hess: [00:27:35.06] Sure. No, I mean, here’s the beautiful thing. Like, you have so many from Amazon and Apple and Microsoft, Salesforce, like you have all these Google, you have all these juggernaut technology companies who have completely adopted some type of cloud type environment. Right. And so the tools within these cloud environments, quite honestly, you know, so you sent me over some questions using a Google, Google, Google doc. And so, I literally just, you know, I clicked on the link. I listened to it, you know, right there on my phone. I was able to consume and digest that information right at my fingertips. Right. Sounds just like any other user of technology. So that’s the beautiful thing. And so, running an organization, right. So even though we’re a nonprofit, I have a board of directors who are completely focused on how, it’s great Mike, you got a handful of placements. Let’s get some more. Let’s look at your pipeline. Well, guess what? On the dashboard with my, with my very accessible Salesforce dashboard, I am able to take a look and say, OK, what opportunities, what are our highest revenue opportunities? What’s in the queue right now? How can we move it along in the sales process? Stage one, stage two, stage three. It’s all right there at my fingertips, just like any other executive. So, when you think about, you know, from regardless of where you are, and we as an organization, so again, I’m, it’s like a Rogaine commercial. I’m not only the president, I’m a customer, too. So my, I have an organization where we have six teammates all identifying with disabilities.

Mike Hess: [00:29:24.61] Multiple of us are totally blind, and yet we do exactly what any other organization, a staffing agency would do. So we have, we have a statement of work generator that’s one hundred percent accessible. We have an applicant tracking system that’s one hundred percent accessible. We’ve created this environment. By the way, it’s the reason why we were invited to speak at Google Next last year and at Dreamforce for Salesforce’s conference. And because we use our primary infrastructure that we built all this completely accessible technology on is the G Suite, the Google Productivity Suite, the G Suite and Salesforce. So, we literally built in-house a completely accessible infrastructure. So that way, again, we, as the team scales, we’re focused on scaling with individuals that meet our talent needs. So, technology is absolutely the game changer. And by the way, this is, this is out of the box accessible. Out of the box, this is like we didn’t, we didn’t, you know, do some plug-in that cost a million dollars, this is out of the box. So when, that’s why we were invited to speak at those two prestigious conferences, because we’re not just talking accessibility. So, our conference, our title at the Google Next conference was actually Empowering Entrepreneurship and Employment using Google Productivity and Accessibility. So, it was empowering. Again, I go back to that empowering entrepreneurship and employment, by just leveraging the technology that’s out of the box. So, the technology is truly what levels the playing field for our community.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:03.77] I love it. And it’s such a great example of, like you said, out of the box. There wasn’t anything additional that you had to buy, any new technology that you had to develop. It was all already there for you. As we look to the next 30 years of work, what emerging workplace trends or technologies do you think will have the biggest impact on people with disabilities?

Mike Hess: [00:31:23.99] You know, it’s a great question. I, I truly, I truly, truly believe that actually the, the, I believe it’s more than a fad this time with the Black Lives Matter. I truly believe and we again, we as an organization, we pitch us as a diversity and inclusion solutions provider for professionals with disabilities. That’s how we pitch our organization and our services to organizations. And with the Black Lives Matter, really, it’s so refreshing to hear, you know, the momentum continue to move on with that. We’re just leveraging, saying, OK, hey, while your organization is focused on, you know, inclusion, we’re just asking you to be inclusive with your inclusion conversations. So in other words, as organizations truly, you know, the ones who are walking the talk, right, those organizations who are truly doing that, all we want to do is we want to be included in those conversations. So, as you are really looking at your recruiting practices, as you’re looking at your hiring practices, all that, the time is now. Like do the, you know, adding the professionals with disabilities community to those efforts is seamless and it absolutely fits fine. So, we’re not, we’re not asking you to ignore right, the very important racial injustices and the institutional disparities that absolutely exist. So we’re just, we want you to also recognize while those institutional inequities have been in place for marginalized groups, the BIPOC, the black indigenous people of color community. They are also in place for the greater people with disabilities community. So, I truly believe that it’s not the next 30 years. I believe it’s going to be the next thirty-six months.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:15.84] I love this. And I’m going to repeat what you said. You ask to be inclusive with your inclusive conversations. Sounds simple, but it is very complicated. But the time is now, why we’re, we’re starting to have those conversations, to include everyone that should and must be included in hiring, engagement and employment.

Mike Hess: One hundred percent.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: I love it. I love it. And I love how, again, how simple it is, it sounds. But while you’re already having these conversations, let’s think about truly being inclusive and involving, employing and hiring everyone.

Mike Hess: [00:33:54.72] Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:56.69] Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. I wanted to ask you where we can go to learn more about you and the work that you do.

Mike Hess: [00:34:06.97] Oh, sure, thank you. It’s, we’re pretty easy to find. It’s blindinstituteoftechnology.org or we also have the domain BlindIT.org, so blind as in unable to see, BlindIT.org. So we’re, we’re on LinkedIn. We’re on Facebook. We’re on Twitter. We, we’d love to talk to any organization who is, you know, wanting to have some of those amazing financial and cultural results that are absolutely documented now.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:34:41.23] Awesome. Well, we will link to your website as well as your LinkedIn profile. I also will make sure to include a lot of the amazing reporting that you mentioned. You mentioned Accenture’s 2020 Disability Equality Index report. So those things are going to be included in the resources section in our show notes, too. So, connect with Mike and then get access to all the goodness that he mentioned throughout this podcast interview. Thank you so much, Mike, for taking the time to chat with us.

Mike Hess: [00:35:08.80] Thank you so much for inviting me. It was truly my honor.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:11.80] The Accenture report, Getting to Equal: the Disability Inclusion Advantage found the companies that offered inclusive working environments for employees with disabilities achieved on average a 28 percent higher revenue, 30 percent higher economic profit margins and two times net income of their industry peers. I’m linking to this Accenture report in the resources section of our podcast notes over on Workology, and I appreciate Mike sharing his time and expertise today. He is on a mission to change not just industry, but the business and workplace world. And I love it. And together we can really make change happen in this area and help drive employment for all, including people with disabilities. This Future of Work series is in partnership with PEAT and it is one of my favorites. Thank you to PEAT as well as our Workology podcast sponsor, Workology.

Closing: [00:36:10.99] Join me for the first ever virtual HR Expo, October 5th through 9th. Demo and meet 35 companies just like at the Conference Expo Hall, but all online. Let me and Workology help connect you with great technology and service providers at virtualHRExpo.com. That’s www.virtualHRExpo.com.